Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned in a recent television interview that raising the minimum wage could cause jobs to be replaced with technology, the Independent Journal Review notices. Mr. Gates:
you have to be a bit careful: If you raise the minimum wage, you're encouraging labor substitution, and you're going to go buy machines and automate things — or cause jobs to appear outside of that jurisdiction. And so within certain limits, you know, it does cause job destruction. If you really start pushing it, then you're just making a huge trade-off.
Well put. The questioner had asked, "should we want to see more models like Costco — where companies pay their employees a lot more than the minimum wage." Costco in fact is a fine example of exactly what Mr. Gates is talking about: a lot of the checkout lanes at the one I sometimes shop at are self-checkout, meaning that the employees who used to stand at the registers and scan barcodes have been replaced by a combination of software and the unpaid (or paid by the perception, not always accurate, of lower prices) labor of customers.